I came home from the store one day and tried to sneak the new fishing rod into the house. My wife caught me as I headed for the basement and immediately saw that I was trying to hide something. “New fishing rod, huh?” she asked, knowing the answer. Yep. When I told her I got a good deal on a new Cabela’s XMLTi rod, she said, “Whatever.” My wife loves to fish, but could generally not care much about the actual gear. It was only a few hours later when she came storming down the stairs demanding to know how good of a deal I had gotten. Guess she looked up the rod on the website. DOH! I slept on the couch for a few days, but this rod was worth it.
The rods are made with a super high-grade graphite and then they wrap that with a higher grade modulus graphite. I don’t know all the technical stuff that goes into it, but I will say this. This is the most sensitive rod I’ve used. To quote Cabela’s website: “The blanks are our legendary XML rod blanks which are 25% stronger than the originals, but at the same time 10% lighter. Crafted of ultra-high 64-million modulus blended graphite using strength-enhancing Spiral Core Technology and Generation III bonding resin, they have an aesthetically elite looking titanium gray color that sets them apart from the competition.” Like I said, technical stuff, but I’ll take their word for it.
I bought this rod with a purpose in mind. I went with the 7 foot casting model in a 2-piece design in their medium-heavy weight setup. It is rated for 10-17lb line and has a 10-1/2” full-length cork handle with cork butt. The guides are made from Titanium wire and can keep their shape no matter what. I can step on them, pinch them, whatever. They don’t break. And they don’t wear out or groove when using braided line, which is good because I use PowerPro line for my big-fish rods, and this is a big fish rod. And since the guides flex, they don’t flatten out the rod when that big fish is pulling like a truck and trying to drag you in the water with it.
North to Alaska
Like I said, I bought this rod with a purpose in mind. I was soon after headed up to Alaska for two weeks of fishing and relaxing. While I would be fishing with a guide some of that time, I also planned to do a lot of fishing/exploring. I’ve been up there on the Kenai River quite a few times and know what to expect from the sockeye, coho and pink salmon that roam those waters along with their massive king cousins. I wanted a tough-as-nails rod that would allow me to feel every rod, snag and lightly-hitting fish as I bounced my lures along the bottom. The Kenai is a fast river full of snags as well as fish. Previous trips have taught me that a good rod is worth its weight in gold. Not too far off either because as you’ve already read, these rods aren’t cheap. But a good rod can make a trip and these are GREAT rods. I’d put them up with the best rods out there.
My first day on the river, I had my 20lb PowerPro line, spooled up on an Abu Garcia® Ambassadeur® Classic C3 Casting Reel. The reel seat on these rods is rock solid and a welcome thing. My last trip up was marred by a rod that, while the rod itself was okay, the reel seat would actually flex, causing me to have less control than I liked and eventually it cost me fish and a day’s fishing as the rod broke and I lost a reel to the water spirits. With the XML Ti, I tied on a pencil lead and a yarn fly of bright pink. Three casts in the riffle and I was hooked up. Like I said, I felt every rock, every nook, every cranny, and the fish that lightly grabbed the fly out of instinct and anger. Two weeks of pounding fish after fish and the rod still looked brand new when I came back home. I now use it for our local toothy critters, you know pike and musky.
The Outwrite Truth
So, is this the best rod I’ve ever used? Without a doubt. Is it for you? That depends. If you demand the best from your fishing equipment, then yes, no question. If you are planning a big trip and don’t want your gear to let you down, then you should think about adding this to the things you need to buy before you go. For fishing bluegills once and a while, it might be a bit too much, but who am I to judge? I use mine all the time, and not just because my wife reminds me that I can still sleep on the couch.